Shin splints!! Sounds a bit scary. Shards of bone splintering off, bony aching that means doom for all concerned.
But what are we really talking about? Shin pain. Generally worse with exercise. So how about “exercise-induced shin pain?” Sounds a bit better. Well, that’s what the experts think too. Non-descript, colloquial terms for problems like shin splints, RSI, sciatica are describing PAIN, not damage or injury. Giving it a term that makes it sound worse than it is will in most cases make it feel worse too.
So shin splints. Could be a tibial stress fracture, could be compartment syndrome. Could be a couple of rarer, worse things. But 99% of you with what you call shin splints are basically overloading the lower part of your leg compared to the upper part because of how you walk, run or the other.
Orthotics may make you feel better, but looking at orthotic prescription in big populations shows they really aren’t worth the investment. Most of the time they are big, expensive placebos.
The single best thing you can do is look at how you are doing the thing that causes the pain. We assess your biomechanics, the relative strength of your muscles and the coordination of your movement. Then we increase your conditioning to handle the workloads you are under.
Once all this happens, you move better and are much less likely to feel your shin pain, or any other pain, because of this improvement.
So stop putting up with it, stop hoping it will go away, stop decreasing your exercise load to feel better. Learn to move better and get back to it.
Newcastle Performance Physio, resplinting splintered shins since 2016.
Until next time.